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September 17, 2009

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China urged to provide major investment to curb emissions

CHINA needs huge flows of investment in clean technology to maintain hope of keeping greenhouse gas emissions below levels that could help push the planet deep into dangerous global warming, a Beijing energy think tank said yesterday.

The nation's Energy Research Institute reported in a new study that with enough money and the right policies, emissions of carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas from fossil fuels, could peak around 2030-35 and by 2050 fall to the same level as 2005.

Such steps would help the world avoid greenhouse gas concentrations likely to stoke worsening droughts, floods and sea-level rises.

But the institute, which advises Chinese energy and climate change policy makers, stressed such an undertaking would come with a big bill, one that it said rich nations should help pay.

Spending to save

"If China is to achieve the development path described in the low-carbon scenario, the funding outlays will be massive, even if we set aside considering whether a new generation of energy technology can even be developed and applied on a wide scale," the report said.

Spending on energy-saving technology would bring its own savings through reduced bills for coal, oil, gas and other energy. But such efforts will need to be backed by sustained infrastructure investment, according to the report.

A low-carbon growth path would cost about 1.7 trillion yuan (US$249 billion) extra a year by 2030 for energy-efficient industry, transport and buildings, and similar levels in 2050, the study indicated.

"If the government promotes fiscal policy incentives, that would also be another enormous outlay," it said.

Governments are deep into negotiations seeking to agree on a new global pact on fighting climate change by the end of 2009, and China with its bulging greenhouse gas output is a key player.

The report, supported by the US Energy Foundation and the WWF environmental group, explores in number-packed detail the policies, technologies and lifestyle changes needed to achieve growth with low emissions in the world's third-biggest economy.

One of the chief authors, Hu Xiulian of the Energy Research Institute, said estimating costs far into the future is laden with uncertainty. But the estimates showed the immensity of the task.

"An enhanced low-carbon trajectory (for China) will be totally unreachable without major international help after 2020," she said in an interview with Reuters.

If China adopts "low-carbon development," emissions could peak at 2.4 billion tons of carbon a year by 2035 and then remain close to that level for at least 15 years. Under an "enhanced low carbon scenario" of more stringent steps, emissions could reach a maximum of 2.2 billion tons of carbon a year by 2035 and fall to 1.4 billion tons in 2050.

President Hu Jintao will present China's new plans for tackling global warming at a United Nations summit on climate change next week.


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